Chinese state media yesterday accused the Philippines of violating “morality” and international law by seeking UN arbitration in the South China Sea territorial dispute involving the two countries.
Over the weekend, Manila asked a UN tribunal to rule on Beijing’s claims over most of the strategically significant South China Sea — where Taiwan also maintains claims — by submitting nearly 4,000 pages of evidence to back its case.
It argues that China’s stance is illegal under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and interferes with the Philippines’ sovereign rights to its continental shelf.
Both nations are signatories to UNCLOS, but Beijing says the provisions do not apply to the conflict.
In a commentary the People’s Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, denounced Manila’s move.
“The act of the Philippine side is against international law and the historical truth, as well as against morality and basic rules of international relations,” it said.
Manila had “provoked China” by going to “so-called international arbitration, a move that is both illegal and unreasonable” and “an act lacking credibility,” it said.
The commentary was reported in English by Xinhua news agency, often an indication that authorities want it to reach a wider audience.
“The Philippines attempted to solicit international sympathy through disguising itself as a small and weak country,” it said.
Manila was attempting “to legalize its invasion of Chinese islands through the arbitration,” it added.
On Monday, the Philippine ambassador was summoned to hear China’s strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to the move, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
Chinese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Liu Zhenmin (劉振民) told the ambassador that China’s stance of neither recognizing nor participating in the arbitration would never change, it said on its Web site.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III vowed on Monday to press ahead with the legal appeal.
Additional reporting by Reuters